I Have a Dirty Secret

I have a dirty little secret I have been hiding for some time, and I think it’s time to come clean.

I work for the government.

So not “THE” government, but “A” government that likes to think it’s as large and as powerful as “THE” government simply because we can be called by at least three different three letter acronyms.  I know, it’s confusing for us to.  That’s actually not the secret I am hiding, I just wanted to soften the blow before the big reveal.

I am the customer.

Collective gasp!

There it is, I have come clean.  I am the guy who contacts you really early in the morning or late at night complaining that you haven’t done something.  I’m the guy who gets on conference calls and admits that during your wireless project we decided to swap out entire wired back end and change the logical configuration of networks.  I’m also the guy that admits halfway through the project that we are actually trying to piggy back a new service onto your project and now we are delayed because the pseudo network guy that used to be a radio guy might have messed up the logical configuration and in the middle of trying to fix it had his CCIE (times 3) decided he wanted to change a bunch of other stuff and now the pseudo radio guy is screwed and just told you that we are going to delay your project another couple of weeks while radio guy figures out what he’s going to do next with the logical, and physical, new network.

That was just this morning by the way.  In government work, we get to do that ALL THE TIME!  Yes, I am that guy.

I don’t mean to be.  Really, I don’t.  I try really hard to understand the technical details of Wi-Fi from the people I consider to be the experts; the ones in the trenches every day who, after dealing with me for a couple of hours, has to switch gears and then deal with an actual real company that operates under rules that make sense to the rest of the world.  When dealing with me, and my rules, please try and remember that we don’t mean to be this way, it’s just who we are.

Oh, and about those rules.

They make no sense to us either.  Our job is to try and learn the rules the best we can and then figure out how we can circumvent them to accomplish what we are really trying to do.  When we ask for weird things, there’s a reason.  Sometimes we can explain, other times the explanation is so long and complex, and wouldn’t make sense to you anyways, we don’t even try.  It’s not that we think you aren’t intelligent enough to understand what we are going to say, it’s because we know you ARE intelligent and what we are about to say will break your mind and cause you to steer your car into a ditch.

No one wants that!

Our funding cycles are weird, and even weirder when you are government but don’t have to adhere to normal government funding cycles, but still have to adhere to purchase requirements.  We are the ones that will ask for a quote and need it 20 minutes ago, only to put it on the shelf to gather dust for three months and then yank it out and need it updated in 30 seconds so maybe, just maybe we might cut you a PO for half of what we originally told you.  We don’t like it but as a government customer, it’s the nature of the beast.

One last thing I need to come clean about along the vein of being the customer – I am also the integrator for a group of people that understand the technology less than I do.  If you think you have it bad dealing with me, have some compassion because I just got off the phone with someone who told me that after you connect to the network it just works because the rest of it is “just magic.”  That’s a true story that happened in the middle of radio guy trying to fix his logical configuration mistake when he tried to have TWO quad zero routes for the global routing table on a 6509.  Again, that’s a true story from last month.  Fun, huh?

Why do I stay?  One, I feel like I still have a lot to learn about Wi-Fi.  I’m only one year onto what I will call my “formal education” on 802.11 (after 4 years of doing almost everything wrong that can be done wrong) and I’m pretty sure there is still some settings on my Cisco WLC I haven’t adjusted from factory default, figuring out what that broke, and then set them back to factory default.  Still so many nerd knobs to tune!

The other reason I stay?  I will borrow a line from a very obscure movie.

But if you can summon it all up… at one time… in one place… you can accomplish something… glorious.”

**Coming up next, the downside of staying to turn all of those nerd knobs.**

 

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